Reviewer of the Month (2022)

Posted On 2022-05-18 16:35:04

In 2022, TAU reviewers continue to make outstanding contributions to the peer review process. They demonstrated professional effort and enthusiasm in their reviews and provided comments that genuinely help the authors to enhance their work.

Hereby, we would like to highlight some of our outstanding reviewers, with a brief interview of their thoughts and insights as a reviewer. Allow us to express our heartfelt gratitude for their tremendous effort and valuable contributions to the scientific process.

January, 2022
Xiaoming Zhou, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, USA  

February, 2022
Beth Morrel, Ikazia Ziekenhuis, The Netherlands
Mateusz Czajkowski, Medical University of Gdańsk, Poland

March, 2022
Martin Gross, Dartmouth College, USA

April, 2022
Larry I. Lipshultz, Baylor College of Medicine, USA

May, 2022
Parviz Kavoussi, Austin Fertility & Reproductive Medicine/Westlake IVF, USA 

June, 2022
Eric Chung, AndroUrology Centre, Australia

July 2022
Pedro F. S. Freitas, Hospital Sírio-Libanês, Brazil 

August, 2022
Peter Hanna, Aswan University, Egypt 
Jae-Wook Chung, Kyungpook National University, South Korea

September, 2022
Paul H. Chung, Thomas Jefferson University, USA 

October, 2022
Lijun Shang, London Metropolitan University, UK  

November, 2022
David Barham, University of California, USA

December, 2022
Rolf Christian von Knobloch, Philipps-University Marburg Medical School, Germany

January, 2022

Xiaoming Zhou

Dr. Xiaoming Zhou received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Florida and currently is a research associate professor of medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences at USA. Dr. Zhou’s laboratory has recently focused on systemic inflammation-induced multi-organ injury with emphasis on acute kidney injury. Specifically, his research team is trying to understand how mitochondrial dysfunction, innate and adaptive immunity contribute to the pathogenesis of tourniquet- and sepsis-induced multi-organ injury and mitigate the injury especially under the austere condition with limited resources.

There are no roadmaps toward next scientific discoveries, thus pool of scientific minds is the best way to navigate journeys with minimal U-turns to reach the goals of novel discoveries. According to Dr. Zhou, publications facilitate understanding how we have reached this stage of a particular topic and contemplating next move. Therefore, peer review plays an indispensable role in controlling the quality of publications and making sure each step we have taken is a right step to move forward.

Authors have submersed into a research topic for years before they reach the stage of writing a manuscript. Many times they feel that the design and execution of the study and presentation of the study result make a perfect sense. However, a fresh eye may easily pick up some shortcomings and flaws. Therefore, Dr. Zhou thinks that a reviewer should have an investigative and skeptic mind, when he/she reviews a manuscript. Other important things to consider are the clarity and readability of the manuscript.

Speaking of the use of reporting guidelines like TRIPOD and CONSORT for research standard, Dr. Zhou is fully in favor of that. The ultimate goal of science is to discover truth. The truth can be measured by reproducibility of a discovery. Unfortunately, not every discovery reported in publications has been reproduced by other laboratories, sometimes even own laboratories. This is due to in part the complexity of biology and medicine, but also due to man-made factors. Following these reporting guidelines will help improve transparency of how a research has been conducted and reproducibility of a discovery.

As a researcher, I want to keep up with the latest development of my field. Reviewing a manuscript is one of ways to keep myself in the front. We also should be good citizens in the scientific communities and help control and improve the quality of publications and science by donating our time as reviewers,” says Dr. Zhou.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

February, 2022

Beth Morrel

After specializing in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam the Netherlands, Dr. Beth Morrel, MD, joined the staff of Ikazia Ziekenhuis, a teaching hospital also in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. She practiced Ob-Gyn in the full breath of the specialty for several decades, dedicating herself to educating interns and developing specialized office hours for both vulva pathology and pediatric and adolescent gynecology (PAG), then two emerging fields within general gynecology. As an IFEPAG-fellow, the international fellowship for PAG, Dr. Morrel has worked toward improving PAG in the Netherlands, mentoring others to become IFEPAG-fellows, organizing courses and formulating guidelines for PAG-services. Since retiring from clinical practice, she has been working at the Erasmus MC as an educational advisor for the Ob-Gyn internship and as a guest researcher within a multidisciplinary team. Dr. Morrel is now in the final stages of completing her PhD-thesis on the long-term consequences of juvenile vulvar lichen sclerosus.

Being primarily a clinician for most of her professional life, Dr. Morrel knows how important it is that only well-founded scientific information be shared with the scientific community. Many of those reading the medical journals are practitioners relying on the information presented to stay knowledgeable and up-to-date when caring for patients and applying new insights to their daily practice. Once a study is published, it becomes a building block for future researchers as well, and, therefore, it is paramount that what is published is reliable and a valid foundation for future medical practice and research. To Dr. Morrel, peer review improves the reliability of a publication, and thus, supports the audience of clinicians and researchers in making sure that their work be of the highest quality possible.

Bias is somehow inevitable in peer review. In Dr. Morrel’s opinion, any kind of review would have some aspects of subjectivity. To review a manuscript as objectively as possible, one should follow a predefined standard procedure. Start with an overall impression of the subject matter and only accept manuscripts to review if one feels the subject matter is relevant and interesting for the audience of the journal to which it has been submitted. One should recuse themselves if they do not feel adequately knowledgeable, will not be able to dedicate enough time to the reviewing process or if there are conflicts of interests. On the other hand, Dr. Morrel finds that following guidelines, e.g., those set out by Publons, helps structure the process of review, leading to an objective analysis of the content. Being an impartial reviewer requires appraising a manuscript from both the vantage point of the potential readers as well as that of the authors themselves, evaluating the scientific merit, the structure and methods, ethical considerations and readability.

From a reviewer’s perspective, Dr. Morrel believes that institutional review board (IRB) approval is essential before embarking on performing a research project. The scientist is often so focused on the research question that perspective regarding feasibility and ethical considerations are lost from view. The IRB, generally composed of a team of researchers, clinicians, ethicists, legal experts and representatives of patients and the general public, is geared to reflect on many aspects of a research proposal, to ensure that rigorous standards are met. To Dr. Morrel, this is a great service to the researcher to help improve their study design where needed. Leaving out this process would leave the way open for possibly poorly designed, inaccurate or unnecessarily redundant research or even possibly harmful human experiments. Researchers are part of a community, and we have a collective responsibility to guarantee the public that only well-founded empirical research meeting the highest ethical standards is carried out and published. The IRB is thus an indispensable pillar of the scientific community.

That peer review is generally anonymous and non-profit are precisely motivating factors for me to participate in this process. Otherwise, the objectivity of the review could be compromised,” says Dr. Morrel. When her own submissions are reviewed, she finds that reviewers help her to reflect on her work and are supportive in improving the manuscript, even in cases when the manuscript may be rejected. With respect for the hard-work and effort authors have put into their manuscript, Dr. Morrel hopes to give constructive advice while guarding the quality of publications. She adds, “Performing a review oneself is an enlightening experience, as well, obliging the reviewer to formulate their critique and aid the authors in improving their manuscript, thus improving one’s own insight into general principles of research and clear and concise communication. What I learn by doing peer review carries over in my teaching of interns, where the requirements of optimal scientific reporting can be applied to their presentations to peers as well as their critical reading of the medical literature which they must keep abreast of as future clinicians or researcher.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

Mateusz Czajkowski

Dr. Mateusz Czajkowski currently serves at the Department of Urology, Medical University of Gdańsk, Poland. He is a member of the Polish Urological Society and the European Association of Urology. His main interests are penile diseases especially penile lichen sclerosus and penile cancer. His Ph.D. research was about the influence of the irritating effect of urine in occlusion conditions on the expression of proinflammatory cytokines in penile lichen sclerosus. Currently, he is working on the evaluation of the expression of the transcription factor NFκB in penile lichen sclerosus and is trying to find the mechanism of the formation of penile cancer based on lichen sclerosus. Another area of his interest is penile cancer, both its pathogenesis and functional and sexual functions in patients undergoing partial penectomy with reconstruction using a split-thickness skin graft.

“Peer review is crucial if we want to make good science,” says Dr. Czajkowski. To him, both authors and reviewers become better researchers going through the peer-review process. The authors receive an independent opinion about their study and they have the opportunity to go up against different points of view. During the submission process, authors can lose their criticism, when they work on the manuscript for a long time. It is because they look at the final version of the manuscript through the prism of their work put into it. At this point, the review allows authors to make necessary changes so that the results of their work are published in the best possible way. For the reviewer, the peer-review process is a good way to stay up-to-date with research conducted in their field. While doing peer review, they also gain experience in writing, and while they are writing their manuscripts, they do it in a better way.

Dr. Czajkowski goes on to talk about what he believes reviewers should bear in mind during review. First, they should remember that a thorough peer-review process is essential to good science. Second, they should express their opinions and suggestions in a polite but firm manner. Third, they must take into account that each author may have his/her own writing style and should not be changed to their liking.

As a reviewer and author, Dr. Czajkowski supports the use of reporting guidelines such as STROBE and ARRIVE. Following these guidelines when preparing a manuscript allows authors to demonstrate that all the necessary elements are included in their work. It is also clear and transparent information for the reviewers that the manuscript has been thoroughly prepared.

Writing a review is time-consuming, but it can’t be replaced with anything else. I undertake peer review on topics similar to my interests. As an author, I bear in mind that someone else also takes their time to peer-review my research,” says Dr. Czajkowski.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

March, 2022

Martin Gross

Dr. Martin Gross, MD is an Assistant Professor of Surgery (Urology) at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College, USA. He is the Men’s Health specialist for Dartmouth Health. He graduated from UMDNJ – New Jersey Medical School and completed his Urology residency at Boston University Medical Center. He subsequently completed a Men’s Health Fellowship at Louisiana State University. He has co-authored over 150 peer-reviewed journal articles, abstracts, videos and book chapters. His research publications have garnered multiple awards. He serves on a number of journal and specialty society boards, including the Editorial Board of The Journal of Urology. He is an Associate Editor for The Journal of Sexual Medicine. He teaches about Men’s Health and provides penile prosthetic surgical training both domestically and internationally. His clinical interests include complex penile prosthesis surgery, penile prosthesis infection prevention, and the treatment of Peyronie’s disease, male stress urinary incontinence, chronic orchialgia and hypogonadism.

A healthy peer review system, to Dr. Gross, involves respectful collaboration. Peer reviewers should offer polite and respectful commentary in order to improve papers. There is sometimes a tendency towards incredulous and scathing commentary that is inappropriate in peer review. A good review is thorough, incisive, and keenly (but not rudely) critical of the technical merit of a paper. This is a hard balance to strike, but becomes easier with practice.

Nevertheless, quality of and availability of reviewers are both challenges, in Dr. Gross’ opinion, to a healthy peer review system. Quality can be improved by education and training. Availability is a more puzzling phenomenon. This could be improved by increasing the pool of available reviewers. This could also be done by incentivizing the review process.

Peer reviewers should be enthusiastic to involve themselves in the peer-review process. Peer review should not be seen as a chore, but rather as a responsibility to a system that attempts to provide fairness and rigor. The benefit of reviewing, for me, is the fervent hope that my next paper will also be reviewed carefully and competently,” says Dr. Gross.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

April, 2022

Larry Lipshultz

Larry I. Lipshultz, MD, is Professor of Urology and Chief of the Scott Department of Urology’s Division of Male Reproductive Medicine and Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, USA. He holds the Lester and Sue Smith Chair in Reproductive Medicine, and is a well-known authority on abnormalities of male reproduction, erectile dysfunction, and male hormone therapy. He has published more than 440 journal articles, edited over 10 books, and has instituted a fellowship training program in male reproductive medicine and surgery that has trained more than 120 physicians, who are now in practice both locally and abroad. You may find out more about Dr. Lipshultz here.

Peer review, according to Dr. Lipshultz, promotes the publishing of non-biasly judged manuscripts that are reviewed, often blindly, by experts in the field. The process would be healthy if it is blinded and reviewed by peers with like areas of expertise and interest.

Data sharing is prevalent in scientific writing in recent years. From the perspective of a reviewer, Dr. Lipshultz supports the idea of data sharing, since it promotes others to better understand how conclusions are drawn. Many outcomes have important clinical significance and suggest future directions for other investigators.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

May, 2022

Parviz Kavoussi

Dr. Parviz Kavoussi is a reproductive urologist practicing at Austin Fertility & Reproductive Medicine/Westlake IVF, USA, specializing in male fertility. He is also an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Urology at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio as well as an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin.  Besides his clinical practice, he is active in research and has published over 60 manuscripts in peer-reviewed scientific journals, has written multiple book chapters, has taught multiple national post-graduate courses, is an editor of a scientific journal, as well as a peer reviewer for over 20 medical journals. You may learn more about Dr. Kavoussi’s works through here and here.

Peer review is absolutely crucial, in Dr. Kavoussi’s view, for the advancement of science and medical practice. It is important to recognize that the validity of a study does not come from its conclusion but its methodology and how it is performed. That is why critical peer review of methodology is paramount so that studies being published can be relied on as being valid, as many times, these studies impact how physicians treat patients in day-to-day practice.

There are several qualities that Dr. Kavoussi deems important for a reviewer. First and foremost, the ability to be as unbiased as possible. He explains, “We all have our own practice patterns and what we believe based on dogma and experience. As a peer reviewer, these ideas have to be thrown out so that a study is purely assessed based on its quality, regardless of what inherent biases on the topic of the study the reviewer may have.” On the other hand, he believes it is as important to understand the strengths and limitations of different types of studies and their methodology and to have a strong understanding of statistical analyses as that impacts the validity of the conclusions a study makes.

Furthermore, Dr. Kavoussi comments that it is very important for medical students and physicians in training to be taught research scientific methodology and at the very least an understanding of basic statistics. At some point, these trainees will be independent physicians taking care of patients and it will be each individual’s responsibility to be able to interpret published studies and assess whether they are performed in a manner that makes them valid or not, prior to potentially implementing that practice pattern on patients.

Lastly, as a reviewer, Dr. Kavoussi urges authors to follow reporting guidelines (e.g. PRISMA and CARE). It is very important to follow these guidelines as it is a way to validate and organize the method during preparation of a manuscript.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

June, 2022

Eric Chung

Prof. Eric Chung is a consultant urological surgeon at the AndroUrology Centre for Sexual, Urinary and Reproductive Excellence and holds professorial academic appointments at the University of Queensland in Brisbane and Macquarie University Hospital in Sydney, Australia. He has been appointed to numerous executive positions in various international organizations such as the Chair of the Male LUTS and Andrology sections within the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand (USANZ), Secretary-General for the Asia Pacific Society of Sexual Medicine (APSSM), and Chair of the Surgical Committee and an executive board member at the International Society of Sexual Medicine (ISSM). His main areas of research include male sexual and voiding dysfunctions, the use of technology in novel reconstructive and advanced prosthetic surgery, andrology as well as healthcare policy in advancing quality-of-life and evidence-based management. Connect with Dr. Chung on LinkedIn.

TAU: Why do we need peer review? What is so important about it?

Prof. Chung: The peer-review process is vital because it is a formative process where your contemporary peers (and others) can evaluate the quality of your work. It serves as a constructive platform for critically analysing and improving academic performance, and an opportunity to learn about the subject matter. For the reviewers, it provides a unique opportunity to read (preview) new papers and stay at the forefront of scientific literature.

TAU: What reviewers have to bear in mind while reviewing papers?

Prof. Chung: Reviewers are interested to know whether these submitted papers were scientifically valid, present a robust discussion about the merits and limitations of the research question(s), and how this piece of information will add to the literature. It is important to consider geographical and socio-cultural context as well as whether the paper is first-of-its-kind when providing comments.

TAU: Would you like to say a few words to encourage other reviewers who have been devoting themselves to advancing scientific progress behind the scenes?

Prof. Chung: They are the unsung heroes, and their services are invaluable and require formal acknowledgement. Awards such as best reviewers of the month or year are great incentives and recognize the pro-bono work of the reviewers. I think the recent addition by scientific journals to provide recognition for this peer-review process through Publons or similar Web of Science Reviewer Recognition Services is long overdue.

TAU: Data sharing is prevalent in scientific writing in recent years. Do you think it is crucial for authors to share their research data?

Prof. Chung: In the current era of digital informatics and the pursuit of global knowledge, new information can travel fast, and science is a rapidly evolving field. Hence, sharing research data allows for more collaborative research, improves widespread clinical applications, and enhances the scientific merits of the research projects.

(By Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

July, 2022

Pedro F. S. Freitas

Dr. Pedro F. S. Freitas is currently associated with Hospital Sírio-Libanês, Brazil and is due to start a clinical fellowship in Urologic Oncology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine under the Society of Urologic Oncology / American Urological Association program in 2023. He obtained his MD degree from the University of Brasilia, Brazil. He then completed his training in Urology at the Hospital das Clinicas, University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine. His inclination for Urology and research dates back to medical school, when he worked in the lab on the effects of pneumoperitoneum on physiology and anastomosis healing. He has also published research on Uretero-pelvic junction obstruction, pyeloplasty, testicular torsion, and urologic malignancies. His interests include urologic oncology, robotics, and minimally invasive surgery, especially how they can improve oncologic outcomes and patient recovery. You may connect with Dr. Freitas via Instagram and Twitter.

Peer review is the cornerstone of the immense progress Science has experienced in the last decades. Although imperfect, Dr. Freitas believes it is the best method we have found to evaluate the quality of scientific work while detecting and moving away from bad and pseudoscience. It is also, and above all, a constructive process that goes beyond merely judging a study’s merit. Instead, knowledgeable peers offer valuable insights to improve and refine the methods, presentation, and especially how the study findings contextualize to the broad topic, ultimately achieving the most of the paper’s potential.

Reviewers are the core of the peer-review process and thus carry great responsibility. In Dr. Freitas’ opinion, they should refrain from over-criticism and unconstructive feedback, which may be tempting considering the judging (and often anonymous) position they are granted. Instead, they should strive to evaluate the merit of each study as objectively as possible. Some tools and checklists (e.g., Publons, STROBE) may help the reviewer be as standard and objective as possible. Finally, it is essential to accept reviews only if one is familiar with and has been recently working on the study’s topic, as the activity quality depends on a knowledgeable reviewer.

Together with the peer-review process, Dr. Freitas indicates that reproductivity is one of the cornerstones of Science. It means that observations and interventions will be valid only if they can be reproduced by others working independently elsewhere. For this purpose, he believes it is crucial for authors to disclose all research data as transparent and thoroughly as possible, enabling the conditions in which the observations occurred to be reproduced. Data sharing is also essential for the work’s credibility, considering that the scientific world unfortunately is not free of plagiarism and fraud. Finally, it contributes to developing meta-analyses, which offer the highest level of evidence in Medicine.

Peer review is an activity that offers a lot in return. Reading others’ research is one of the best ways to improve ours, as well as develop scientific thinking and composition skills. It is also an invaluable opportunity to learn about the latest developments and breakthroughs in one’s field of interest. Therefore, it should be regarded as an investment rather than an inconvenience to which every researcher should dedicate some of his/her time. Finally, when sitting down to review a paper, we should never forget the effort the authors put into the study, and dedicate the appropriate time and attention despite the burden of a busy professional routine. That includes refusing a review invitation if it comes amid a high workload period, which could hinder a careful and timely review from being undertaken,” says Dr. Freitas.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

August, 2022

Peter Hanna

Dr. Peter Hanna, MD, is a lecturer and consultant of Surgery (Urology) at the Urology Department of Aswan University, Egypt. He is the director of the Uro-oncology program at Aswan University Hospital. He had his master’s degree in male reproduction. He specialized in Urologic oncology, especially in bladder cancer, and obtained his MD in Uro-oncology from Aswan University. He had a clinical fellowship at the Urologic Oncology Department at Mansoura Urology and Nephrology Center, Egypt. He completed his research fellowship at the University of Minnesota, USA. He built up the cystectomy database for the Urology Department at the University of Minnesota. He has a specialist assistant license in Urology from New York state, USA. He has many publications in the field of Uro-oncology, especially in the ERAS era in cystectomy patients. Dr. Hanna has rich teaching experience with undergraduate medical students for 10 years. He has active clinical practice in the field of urologic oncology, pediatric reconstruction, male infertility, urolithiasis, erectile dysfunction, and genitourinary trauma. He is a peer reviewer for many outstanding journals.

In Dr. Hanna’s view, a healthy peer-review system is one in which the reviewer has well-defined standards while reviewing any manuscripts. Reviewing the manuscript is a difficult process aiming to complete the missing pieces of the manuscript rather than anonymous criticism. He believes that the main issue facing us in achieving highly efficient outcomes of a healthy peer-review system is that the true goal of peer review has to some extent been compromised by biases and other influencing factors.

Dr. Hanna emphasizes that reviewers should bear in mind that the reviewing process is the mainstay to ensure scientific rigor and robustness of the information presented in manuscripts to improve or maintain scientific integrity and progress. He adds, “Anonymous, non-profiting and a non-biased peer-review process is an important commitment from reviewers to the scientific community aiming to assure the integrity of the scientific data within the manuscript and eventually improve the outcomes of conducted studies

From a reviewer’s perspective, Dr. Hanna highlights that authors should dedicate their efforts to following predefined guidelines during drafting the manuscript. Adherence to specific guidelines is mainly dependent on the type of conducted study (e.g., PRISMA for systematic review and CONSORT for randomized control trials, etc.).

If you are doing a peer review of somebody's paper, you should bear in mind someone else is reviewing your work. Be constructive, accountable, and neutral,” says Dr Hanna.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

Jae-Wook Chung

Dr. Jae-Wook Chung currently serves as the Assistant Professor in Urology, School of Medicine, Kyungpook National University, Daegu in South Korea. He received his medical degree in 2007 and completed his Urology residency at Kyungpook National University Hospital in 2012. He served in the military from 2012 to 2015. From 2015 to 2017, he had fellowship in Kyungpook National University Hospital. He obtained his Ph.D. in 2019. For the past 10 years, Dr. Chung devoted himself into clinical and basic research in the field of kidney, prostate and bladder cancer, urolithiasis, and robotics. To date, he has published about 60 papers. He is recently focused on studying kidney regeneration. Learn more about Dr. Chung here.

Scientific verities and discoveries can have extensive significance for individuals and society. Thus, Dr. Chung believes the peer-review process is necessary to guarantee the high quality of scientific articles. During review, he reminds reviewers to take responsibility for their scientific objectivity, which is one of the most important rules in reviewing. He adds, “It is never easy to complete a peer review among various daily tasks as a doctor and professor. In order to achieve scientific objectivity, reviewers should carefully verify the manuscript including the originality, innovation, study design, and sometimes minor misprints or errors.”

Seeing the prevalence of research data sharing in recent decade, Dr. Chung indicates that data sharing will yield more unbiased and higher-dimensional research advancement. However, the major premise for the protection of patients’ personal information and the disclosure of transparent information among researchers are essential. If these prerequisite can be achieved successfully, data sharing will be helpful for mankind.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

September, 2022

Paul Chung

Dr. Paul H. Chung is an Associate Professor and Director of Reconstructive Urology at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA, USA. He obtained his medical degree at Thomas Jefferson University and subsequently completed general surgery and urology residency training at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. He completed a research fellowship at the Urologic Oncology Branch of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD and a clinical fellowship in urologic trauma, reconstruction, and prosthetics at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Chung has an active clinical practice in urethral stricture disease, erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, prosthetic surgery, Peyronie’s disease, open and robotic urinary tract reconstruction, buried penis repair, and genitourinary trauma. He is a member of the American Urologic Association, Society of Genitourinary Reconstructive Surgeons, Société Internationale d'Urologie, Sexual Medicine Society of North America, International Soceity for Sexual Medicine, Society of Urologic Prosthetic Surgeons, and American College of Surgeons. His research focuses predominantly on genitourinary prosthesis infection, novel ultrasound modalities for urethral strictures and erectile dysfunction, and genitourinary trauma. You may connect with Dr. Chung on Twitter @paulchunguro.

To Dr. Chung, peer review is a mechanism that ensures the best scientific product is presented to the scientific community and public. It also helps to ensure what is presented is factual, educational, and understandable.

Two things should be kept in mind during review, according Dr. Chung. First, reviewers should be respectful and thoughtful in their comments. They should not see themselves as gate keepers, but rather peers who have the best interest of the authors in mind. On the other hand, reviewers should also consider the level of the journal when evaluating the rigor of the science.

Seeing the growing prevalence of research data sharing, Dr. Chung indicates that data sharing is important because it increases transparency and raises the burden for authors to ensure that they are doing the best to present their data correctly.

Balancing clinical and academic duties and personal life is always challenging. Becoming efficient with my time and learning how to delegate has helped me to allocate time for other activities, such as peer review,” says Dr. Chung.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

October, 2022

Lijun Shang

Dr Lijun Shang is Professor of Biomedical Sciences and Director of Biological Security Research Centre at the School of Human Sciences, London Metropolitan University, the UK. His research focuses mainly on ion channels in Health and Disease. Recently, he has worked on interaction of nanomaterials in humans extending his research into the multidisciplinary area of biotechnology and health. Since 2015, he expanded his research interest into biochemical weapons and science convergence as he wished to incorporate studies of the social impact of the advances in the life sciences within his science research. He published over 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters and has been invited to be conference speaker. He is a fellow member of the Physiological Society, UK and has intensive collaborations with peers around the world.

Peer review plays an important role, according to Dr. Shang, in safeguarding the best possible correctness of scientific outcome presented in most likelihood of accuracy in a chosen journal. It ensures the fairness of assessment of paper for the hard work from authors.

To Dr. Shang, a healthy peer review system relies on hard works from both reviewers and journal’s editorial team. The selection of reviewers replies on the updated reviewer’s database of the journal, and effective management of the process including efficient communications among the relevant parts. Then, reviewers should be fair, respectful, objective and realistic which means thinking the paper not just based on the science (although it is fundamental) but also the requirement of the journal.

From a reviewer’s point of view, Dr. Shang highlights that it is a basic requirement for authors to disclose any Conflict of Interest (COI) fully, as COI could influence research dramatically if it is not managed properly.

Reviewing a paper is not purely a job for the journal. It should be a learning process and catching up the scientific advances for the reviewer as well. Promoting the scientific progress and sharing the undated knowledge is the joy in the academic life,” says Dr. Shang.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

November, 2022

David W Barham

David Barham, MD, completed the Eric S. Wisenbaugh Fellowship in Male Reconstructive Urology at the University of California, Irvine, in 2023, where he also served as a Clinical Instructor. Prior to the fellowship, he graduated from the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University (Greenville, NC) in the US Army Health Professions Scholarship Program. He completed residency in Urology at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, HI. He will begin practice at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX, later this year. He has co-authored over 30 peer-reviewed publications and 50 abstracts at local, national, and international meetings. He is an active reviewer for several journals and served as a Guest Editor for a special series on Complex Penile Prosthesis Surgery in Translational Andrology and Urology. Additionally, he is a member of Website Committee within the Sexual Medicine Society of North America. He has clinical and research interests in the medical and surgical management of erectile dysfunction, Peyronie’s disease, testosterone deficiency, lower urinary tract reconstruction, and combat-related genitourinary injuries. Connect with Dr. Barham on Twitter.

The most important thing for reviewers to keep in mind while reviewing a manuscript, in Dr. Barham’s view, is the main goal to improve the paper. That thought process will facilitate a healthy and respectful peer-review process and ultimately lead to a higher quality end product. He adds, “Certainly, reviewers should critically assess the paper in its entirety, but nobody benefits from harsh or cruel feedback. A thorough review can be time consuming, but this ultimately benefits our field and patients.”

From a reviewer’s point of view, Dr. Barham emphasizes that it is critical for authors to disclose any potential Conflict of Interest (COI). In general, most researchers have patients’ best interests at the center of the research. However, it is important for readers to have free access to COI disclosure to help contextualize potential bias and how they would feel is best to implement new findings into their practice.

Although there is no glamor in reviewing, I find it rewarding to hopefully provide feedback to authors which maximizes the quality and impact of their work. As an early-career researcher, reviewing also has helped me become a better clinical investigator and think about the development of projects and manuscripts in a more critical way. Therefore, reviewing has improved the quality of my work as well. Finally, reviewing is a great way to learn from our peers and how they approach problems,” says Dr. Barham.

(by Brad Li, Alisa Lu)

December, 2022

Rolf von Knobloch

Prof. Rolf Christian von Knobloch is a Professor of Urology at Philipps-University Marburg Medical School, Germany. He is also a Senior Consultant at Urology Clinic Munich-Planegg, and has been establishing private practice for urology at Uroclinic-Augsburg. His fundamental research areas include molecular biology and genetics of urothelial bladder cancer, renal cell carcinoma and prostate cancer with a focus on free circulating DNA of urothelial and renal cell carcinoma, so called "liquid biopsies". His clinical research areas include prostate biopsy techniques, especially pain reduction, ultrasound characteristics (multiparametric transrectal ultrasound of the prostate) and technical fusion biopsies of the prostate, and Urinary diversion after radical cystectomy, especially continent supravesical diversion with umbilical stoma. Learn more about Prof. von Knobloch here.

TAU: What do you regard as a constructive/destructive review?

Prof. von Knobloch: The goal of a good and constructive review is to clearly address pitfalls of the manuscript and to guide the authors in preparing an interesting and conclusive report of their investigation and in case of rejection, aid in preparing a manuscript suitable for another journal. A destructive review is characterized by only short, insubstantial and perhaps even arrogant and offensive remarks having their origin in a personal rejection of the authorship. Nevertheless, objective criticism of a manuscript must be addressed clearly without deviations and comprehensible.

TAU: Peer reviewing is often anonymous and non-profitable, what motivates you to do so?

Prof. von Knobloch: Receiving a peer review invitation is always an honor for an internationally active researcher as it demonstrates that previous research and publications are well recognized and accepted in the academic community. Although the reviewer’s opinion remains anonymous to the authors and the reader of the later publication, the invitation to review expresses the recognition by an often very renowned editorial board. Here the reviewer is much obliged to work non-profitably.

TAU: Why do you choose to review for TAU?

Prof. von Knobloch: I was honored by the invitation to review a very interesting manuscript for this highly innovative journal with high impact. Closely looking at the editorial board responsible for the invitation, I even felt proud to give my opinion on a manuscript submitted by various renowned institutions.

TAU: From a reviewer’s perspective, do you think it is important for authors to follow reporting guidelines (e.g. STROBE, PRISMA and CARE) during preparation of their manuscripts?

Prof. von Knobloch: To write an unbiased and objective review, it is essential to adhere to rules or suggestions representing the basis for reliable, confirmable and reproduceable criticisms in a peer review. This is even more so if the reviewer is only moderately experienced in reviewing. A clear order for performing a review is very helpful. Still reviewers are human beings with personal characteristics which to some extent may appear in the review and therefore characterize the revised manuscript. Otherwise, reviews could resemble clean and blunt texts generated by critics from artificial intelligence. 

(Brad Li is the main author; Yi Tang, an intern of AME, helped proofread this interview)